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April 22, 2013

70-year-old says joke about Boston Marathon bombings led to evacuation of mall

BETHEL PARK — A 70-year-old man has been jailed on charges he made a bomb threat that prompted the evacuation of a Pittsburgh-area mall, but claims it was a joking remark that’s been blown out of proportion.

Frank Zahler, of Castle Shannon, blames his arrest on “hoity, toity kids” to whom he made the remarks in a Barnes & Noble bookstore at the South Hills Village Mall in Bethel Park after 6 p.m. Sunday.

That’s where police say Zahler asked some other customers to watch his briefcase, then joked it contained some explosives relating to the Boston Marathon. The customers alerted the store’s manager, who called police who, in turn, alerted a bomb squad and evacuated the mall.

Zahler tells reporters, “In my day, we would have laughed it off, you know? There’s no hope.”

 

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